Co-payment in, MLs out: budget speculation

Opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King said on Tuesday reported leaks foreshadowing a co-payment on bulk-billed consultations and an overhaul of Medicare Locals made a farce of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s pre-election promise to be a government of “no surprises”.

“Make no mistake – with the GP tax, the Abbott government is dismantling universal healthcare as we know it,” she said. 

The Australian said the coalition planned to adopt a $6 co-payment for bulk-billed GP visits in the May budget, a move intended to save the government $750 million over the next four years and to deter people from visiting the doctor unnecessarily.

It said the government’s expenditure review committee had signed off on the co-payment and it would be capped at 12 visits a year, imposing extra costs on patients of no more than $72.

Ms King said co-payments would hit low-income earners hardest, but